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C. Dependent Older Patients May Cost Hospitals More

Narrator: This is Science Today. Older patients who are functionally dependent, or rather have trouble caring for themselves, cost hospitals over twenty percent more than older patients who have maintained their functional status. Those were the findings of a University of California, San Francisco study conducted by Kenneth Chuang.

Chuang: My question was whether or not people are treated differently in hospitals because of their functional status. During my residencies, we often saw people were staying in the hospitals longer when they weren't able to get up and walk after they had been done with their acute illnesses. And I was wondering about the financial impacts that this would have on the institutions, on families and on down the road.

Narrator: Chuang's study found hospitals were not reimbursed for the care of functionally dependent patients who require longer visits. This could lead to quicker hospitals stays or even discriminatory practices towards functionally dependent patients.

Chuang: It's a good area to start to look for new solutions and get ways to address inequities.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.